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A dad's journey into health

The Lonely Swings

At the park yesterday with my brood, a feeling of melancholy came over me…………When do we grow out of playing?

They looked so happy and carefree, challenging themselves to climb higher, run faster and jump further.  When did it all end with me?  Did it end or is it just not acceptable to be seen playing now?

The closest I get now (approaching 40) is riding my road bike, I still get to exercise not only my body, but also my childish sense of adventure.  I love seeing a road that I have never noticed before and just shooting down it to see where it goes.  I use things to fill the loss of play in my life, like:  Xbox, drones and, I guess my phone.  These take up my time, but none of them come close to that carefree abandon I had as a child.

Is that where it all ends?  With cares and responsibilities, do we see play as a luxury that we no longer need to prioritise when other things come along.   It’s so sad to think that people get older without fun, adventure and play.  Or is it the desire to get older to grow up and be more mature.  We all crave and rush towards it when we are younger, but when we get there and are comfortable with ourselves, do we ever rush back.  I think I’m ready to (my inner cynic giggling behind it’s hand and coughing the words…Midlife crisis.  Cheeky bugger).  But I can’t help wanting back play.

I would totally love for someone to open up an adult play ground near me.  To climb and swing, without the need for alcohol to lower my inhibitions enough to let go and start having fun.

As it stands though I thank God for the kids, they keep me young and plugged into that world.  Seeing them play and have fun is how kids are supposed to be, and I think adults are too.  So I’m off to the park with the kids again and this time I’m going to play too.

“NEXT ON THE SWINGS”

See you next time folks and don’t grow up.   (Cheeky wink)

 

Anniversaries on a shoestring

So we have recently had our ten-year anniversary, yay us, unfortunately for a number of reasons we have yet to properly celebrate (child-care, work commitments and university all getting in the way).

But a recent conversation with a friend reminded me of some of our anniversaries gone by, when, as new parents money was almost none existent.  I though I would take this opportunity to share these nuggets of relationship gold with you lucky folk today.

It’s very unusual that my wife and I manage to have the day off together without the kids, let alone on our anniversary, but on rare occasions and when the planets aligned perfectly (and the good grace of our long suffering parents) it has happened.   When the kids where younger and money was tighter than my trousers at a buffet we did mange to spend some time celebrating our anniversary together.

A few years ago we got such an opportunity, but with nothing planned and little cash we were struggling.  We live near Lytham a lovely seaside town in Lancashire with views of Southport.  On the main road there are lots of quaint tea-rooms bars and the like, but there are also lots of good quality charity shops (thrift stores for our American brethren).  I planned the day, that we would get £15 each and have to buy something for each other.  We were only allowed to use charity shops.  Then after two hours we met up and presented each other with the gifts over tea and cake, it was lovely.  That’s the first, feel free to nick, pinch, take,steal, lift, swipe or half-inch it.

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I think this could also be expanded on with a little more money.  Rather than buying each other something, instead shop together and put what you buy into an auction and try to make a little money whist having a great experience, the Dickinson Real Deal Anniversary Day Out ha ha.

The second is similar to the first but indulges both of our love for books.  Again on an anniversary we had nothing planned but a bit more money (not for the day but for a more swanky meal).  We drove to Southport for the day.  They have an amazing bookshop called Broadhursts Bookshop.  It is a four floor book shop combining new, second-hand and collectible books.  Heaven for book lovers, but also I think you could find something for everyone.  We were challenged to pick three books each for the other person.  We were up and down the stairs passing each other hiding what you have already decided on whilst trying to sneak a peak at what had been chosen for you.  This was lots of fun and took ages.  Then over dinner we presented each other with our pickings one book at a time and a reason for our choices.

The beauty of days like these, is that having little money takes out the materialism of the anniversary and you spend a large chunk of the day thinking about your partner and ways of making them happy.  They are much more memorable days, so much so in fact that I struggle to remember other anniversaries as they were probably just a meal out (please don’t kill me if I have forgotten something big).

So there you go a few little anniversary ideas, a gift from me to you.

Always remember that necessity is the mother of invention and you don’t have to spend a lot to get massive rewards.

Stay creative people

Crossing the Finish Line

“The line it is drawn the curse it is cast….” Bob Dylan.

That’s it, another ending.  Today was my last day at University, an end of year exam and a few celebratory drinks, then it was done.

It’s been a great four years and I have met some amazing people.  So much has changed in that time, we’ve had the twins I have been made redundant, found a new career path and we lost our little dog Gus (all well documented in other posts; my attempt at hooking you in, did it work?).

Who thought that at my ripe old age I would be finally getting a degree.  I missed out on it when all my friends went, I took a different route but there was always a yearning there to get one.  I always felt like I wasn’t as good as others, that I had something to prove, and I did.  However now I know that it was something I needed to prove to myself, without realising it I had set getting a degree as a personal goal and today, touch wood, I did it.

To be honest I also wanted to do it for my mum, as I will be the first one in our family to do it and I want her to see one of her sons in a cap and gown.

What better day to do it, than my ten year wedding anniversary to my lovely wife.  It was nice celebrating both occasions with all the family (well obviously going away together for a few nights without the kids, cheeky wink, but that will have to wait a few weeks for our diaries to align).

So guys if you have anything that you want to achieve in life, go for it, no matter how long it takes, you will feel a real sense of accomplishment when you do.

Now I can sit back and look forward to taking my wife, mum and eldest daughter to see me graduate. Good times.

I would like to take the opportunity to say thanks to my tutor Jeff and my degree companion Nathan who kept me going through the tough times.

Stay lucky people.

“because the times they are’a changing” Bob Dylan

Not On My Watch Sonny Jim

So I am literally writing this sat on the landing having to police my three unruly children, that, despite the fact they are 7 and 3 (twins) are determined to stay up and play schools till the wee small hours.  Well ‘not on my watch sonny Jim’, I tells ya.

This is so hard as I try to be a kind and fair father, but when it gets to this time and they are being cheeky (nice way of saying little sh**s) all I want to do is scream at the top of my lungs and tear out my eyes. Is that normal?………………….  yea probs.

How does this work, I thought that when they got to this age I would be able to talk and negotiate with them,  little did I know that the little sods would have the audacity to say NO.

Well they won’t get the better of me, I’m a survivor and the king of my own Kingdom, I won’t be told what to do by the smaller people (although it does seem to have gone quiet so I am typing very slowly in case I wake said smaller folk).

I hope that this phase passes by soon, I really do.  All that keeps swimming round in my head is the U2 Mantra, “It’s just a moment , this time will pass”, wish it would get a bloody move on though.

Oh well, any other sympathetic dads out there that want to advise me or just fell my pain please do, love to hear from you.

Dads supporting dads.

Dad on Dad action……. wait err no, ignore that and please don’t google it (chuckling to myself like Daddy Pig)

See you soon folk and don’t let the Bastards grind you down.

Getting lost & finding something new

So I am well down the ‘mews of change’, embarking on a new career.
Although I didn’t want to leave my last career, it was definitely the right
thing to do.  Change is a strange path to walk but, refreshing and
exhilarating in equal measure.

I loved being a youth worker, it gave me a sense of belonging and (I felt)
kudos amongst other professionals as I was the person that could talk to
and advocate for young people.  I was defending the future.  Yep that’s how
I saw it I was the Don Quixote of the youth work world and I was on my
quest.

The truth however is much different.  After I was made redundant I was very
angry for it happening and worried for the young people I had supported.
After being out of the profession for a week or so a huge amount of
pressure was lifted from my shoulders and I felt great, light as a feather.
Looking back now I know that was because the job I once loved, wasn’t there anymore.  It had been kicked and beaten into a shape that I didn’t
recognise, just covered over with a youth work shaped plaster.  I hadn’t
realised, being in the midst of it, what was going on.  I hadn’t been a
real youth worker for years,  as I just accepted little change after little
change.  I know right – two legs good, four legs bad n’all that.

There is still a little guilt there, like I have abandoned the career I
loved, like I’m selling out.  But I had five months with no work and to be
honest there were no jobs there, I was unwanted just like the profession.
It’s being systematically destroyed around the country and my family and I
didn’t have time to wait for it to come back into fashion.

I guess this post is my youth work swan song.  Me, finally accepting I’m no
longer officially a youth worker (despite being about to qualify at uni).
I will always hold the principles with me and apply them wherever I go.
This blog didn’t turn out the way I thought it would but it has been
cathartic, and I think it has given me closure.

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So I carry on with my journey.  Proud of what I’ve achieved and excited
about I could in the future.

No matter how hard change may seem, you owe it to yourself and your loved
ones to be happy and have self worth.

Love you……….. Bye

The New Guy at a New Job

We’ve all been there, the new guy (or gal) in the office, being introduced to the team with absolutely no hope of remembering  any of their names, having to learn new, alien ways of working and trolling through reams and reams of policy, induction gubbins.

Well this week it was my turn, yea new-guy-me.  It has been so good to get back to the world of work after so long in the redundancy wilderness.  Not just get back to work, but a work that is very interesting and for a supportive organisation.  Things for me have definitely taken a turn for the better.

Unfortunately I started too late in the month to get paid at the end of March so we have a barren and fraught April to endure first.  But and end is in sight at least.

It was so easy to get out of work mode and truth be told I do miss a lot of aspects about being off, like having time to clean the house, spending more time with the kids and Xbox time (cheeky wink).  I will not miss, however, the stress, the rows and the lack of being able to afford anything.  I would like to take this time to say thanks to the government (I know, right……Whaaaaaat).  Honestly, the amount of money you get for being a job seeker is low but it also allows you to work 16hrs without impacting on that amount, so working a few days and getting the allowance really helped us to keep our heads above water, till more work came our way.

Hopefully those days are over for good but I guess you never know and I will never be so complacent about work again, look after number one.

But back to the positive.  I have a new challenge and feel like a new me, I feel good and have started working out again and it seems to have coincided with the sunny weather of spring, so positive vibes all around.  Now I can focus on fun with the family, completing Uni and for the first time in a very long while, booking a family holiday.

I have another week of new experiences and knowledge to gain and am looking forward to it.  We’ve had to make childcare changes to accommodate my new hours but we are getting there.

I really struggled through redundancy, listening to peoples wisdom.  They would say ‘something will turn up’ and ‘things will be okay’.   I felt it was bollocks and just people wanting to get out of an awkward conversation (and maybe sometimes it was) but this is just something every family goes through (or hardships in general), I guess, it’s all cyclical.  They knew, and now I do too, that things on the whole will be okay and if you have people around that give support and love, you find a way.

Stay lucky guys

Toodles muchly

Happiness in the moment

I have a niggle, something gnawing away at me.  It’s not that important, it won’t change the world.  But it is annoying me.  I have a lovely life on the whole, great family, good friends and what I hope will turn out to be a good job.  I’m a happy, positive person and am always being told how laid back I am.

All that being said I seem unable to ‘enjoy the moment’ to appreciate things as they are happening.  When I need to get something done I am pretty task focused and attack it till the job is finished,  some might say that this is a good quality to have and in some ways it is.  However I seem to miss out on opportunities to connect with people or just to enjoy the thing unfolding in front of me.  I’ll give you an example, many years ago I queued up for a long time to get an autograph (for someone else) from the group ‘James'(oh sit down, oh sit down etc) and when it came to meeting them I was so focused on them writing the message on the damn cd, that I totally missed having chat and banter with them that could have led somewhere, like a great story to tell people.  I came away having completed my task, yay.  But they must have thought, ‘what a dick’, boo.

That’s an extreme example but you get the drift.  I notice it more when in stressful situations like having to ring the bank or  making sure my child doesn’t get left out when meeting Santa.  Get the job done, seems to be my subconscious mantra (Damn’it subconscious, don’t make me come in there).

Am I alone in this???????   I don’t want my kids to grow up adopting this silliness.  I want to be able to embrace things and seize the day, or just being relaxed enough to take part and enjoy.  I know that I’m not worried or scared of these social transactions, could it be a kind of stress or a need to get things done? (don’t want to go to deep here I may open a gate).

This is just the nonsense that niggles me in my more idle moments.

Hope you are all carving out some happiness for yourselves

Love ya

Losing my boy

So this week, we lost one of our family, Gus.  He was amazing in ways I can’t describe here and he has left a huge hole in the family.

It all started just over a month ago, he was a happy and (seemingly) healthy dog.  All of a sudden he developed a cough, we went to the vet and they said that he had a respiratory infection and started him on a course of antibiotics.  16-10-06_1611 This did help at first and he perked up again, soon though it came back and we went back to the vet.  A stronger dose of antibiotics was prescribed and he perked up again but by the end of the week he had slumped.

Walking him was fine for about ten minutes and then he became exhausted, something wasn’t right anymore, I could feel his spine, something I had never been able to do in the past due to his impressively strong and muscular back.  His fur had also lost it’s shine.  He was struggling to take a full breath now.   We went back and asked for an x-ray and the vet agreed.

The day came and we took the big fella in, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.  We were told to ring back at 3pm to see how he was.   No more than an hour later, we got a phone call from the vet.  We had gone out to the supermarket to keep ourselves distracted. The vet sounded very sad and told us at there were multiple tumours  in his lungs and there was only about 21% of tissue left.  By the time he started with a cough (the first sign anything was wrong) it was already too late.

They said that he had only days left and that we had to decide to put him to sleep now (when he is groggy and free of pain) or take him home for one last night.  Gus, doesn’t like the vet and we felt bringing him round and then taking him back again just wouldn’t be fair on him.  We would have loved more time with him but we had to think about what was best for him.

Needless to say we ditched our shopping and headed for home.  We had the conversation through tears and heartache and decided Gus’ fate.   So we called the vet back and said that it would be best to put him to sleep now whilst he was comfortable and we would be there in five minutes.

We headed in and he was there on the table with a big blanket keeping him warm.  He was awake and saw that we were with him, he then closed his eyes (for the last time) and went back to sleep (he was still quite sedated).  We held him and loved him whilst the vet did what was needed.  We had been told previously that the hearing was the last thing to go, so we stayed with him for a while longer.  Leaving him there was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATelling the children that night was tough, and I’m still not sure they have come to terms with whats happened.

I have come to terms with it but it’s the little things that affect you the most. No-one greeting you at the door, no more Labrador shadow following me round where-ever I go, no more barking at the busses and no more cuddles.

That’s the story of the end of Gus’ life, but he was so much more than his final month.  He gave us over ten years of faithful unconditional love.  He made us laugh, ate our food (and furniture), made us cry and he always knew when you were upset – saddling up next to you and dumping his head on your lap to comfort you.

We’ve had so many adventures together and I was lucky enough to walk with him twice a day over the last ten years.  Walking by his side literally thousands of times.  He has brightened our lives and we were lucky to have such a happy, loud, affectionate and sometimes grumpy brute in our lives.

Gus was my dog, and my friend and I miss him every day.

Good night…………………my boy 

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.  (Dr. Seuss)

Reluctantly Redundant No More

Okay, so my last post was about how hard it was being in this spiralling mess of redundancy and the  massive emotional impact it has on you.  My heart really does go out to everyone going through it .

Then, just like that, the very day after my last post up pops a job offer.  I couldn’t believe it, I honestly couldn’t.  Life is so peculiar that way.  I have been waiting till now to find out where I’ll be based and yesterday  I got the news I was waiting for.  Fortunately I will be based near home, things are turning out well.

So with an end in sight, what have I learnt.  I think it’s a bit early to tell (sure it will be a valuable life lesson though) but for now the overriding feeling is relief, relief an exhaustion.  I feel like I can breath and relax again in the knowledge that thinks will be okay.  At least that’s the plan, and thing always go to plan.  Right?

The job itself was the most difficult recruitment process I’ve been involved in.  Firstly there was a large application form, then an online test, lots of vetting documents and then an assessment centre  for the final crescendo.  This was a round robin of interviews, written activities and case-studies.   It was a hell of ride.  But in some ways (no many ways) I prefer this, it gives employers an idea of what you would be like at the job as opposed to what you are like at answering ten questions under pressure.

I can already feel myself becoming calmer and happier, I had no idea how much I needed the validation and social aspects of work.  But from here on in I know that I can get through things, I have great people around me and I value them more than ever as a result of this time.

 

I truly hope that you are riding atop a peak of life, and if you find that you are in one of life’s troughs know that you will soon be on the up again.

Love ya.

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